Source: (2004) Paper presented at "New Frontiers in Restorative Justice: Advancing Theory and Practice", Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University at Albany, New Zealand, 2-5 December.

Restorative Justice is not a familiar term amongst the public or in legal circles. Key characteristics of restorative justice values, actors, procedures and settings are not known or understood by formal justice system operators. The 1991 Colombian Constitution created community conciliators and popularly elected judges who do play a role in the justice system. These community justice figures are not acquainted with the restorative justice conccepts as such but they often do have an approach to conflict resolution which resembles restorative justice practices. Rather surprisingly, proponents of restorative justice innovations from within the university context were successful in their bid to have restorative justice references included in the new criminal procedure code passed in July, 2004. This legislation which will come into force on the 1st of January 2005 has an entire section entitled restorative justice. In a wide range of crimes which require citizen initiative to bring them into the criminal justice system, obligatory conciliation proceedings between the victim and the suspected offender before a criminal investigation will be commenced. The reform of the criminal justice system does assume that preliminary conciliation encounters between the victim and the suspected offender can produce restorative justice type agreements. Given the provisions foreseen for the operation of the obligatory conciliation proceedings, it is not likely that restorative justice ends will be well served. Some of these conciliation encounters will be undertaken in community justice houses. The community justice house model located in 32 cities, principally in poor peripheral urban suburbs, included both formal criminal justice system operators, as well as community mediators, conciliators and judges. Abstract courtesy of the Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University, http://justpeace.massey.ac.nz.